Here's what happened on Friday. After talking it over with my husband we decided to take one cat at first, as we haven't had cats before and don't know what to expect.
So I had a really tough decision to make. I went down to the shelter and saw both cats again. When the black cat looked up into my eyes, I just couldn't leave him there, so he was the one that I took. His name is Ebony and he is a wonderful companion and loves to sit beside me on the sofa or lie stretched out on the floor nearby.
When I first brought him back, he was quiet and just sniffed around and stayed close by me but now he is getting bolder and more active, climbing around, meowing loudly for food and going by himself to look out the window or sit on the stairs.
This cat is so gentle and so used to being around people that I really wonder what could have made someone give him up to a shelter. He will jump into your lap upon invitation and will respond to a firm "NO" if he is scratching the couch or trying to get through the door. I also suspect that he is older than what they told me at the shelter as he has quite a few white hairs around his ears and belly and is not particularly spry. He even submitted to a bath yesterday--and didn't scratch once, although he did jump out of the tub a few times (he stood on a rubber mat in the tub and I washed him in lukewarm water with a handheld shower sprayer on low volume, avoiding his head and ears).
I have been spoiling him rotten, especially because he wasn't eating much initially so I was feeding him little chunks of canned food by hand. Now that his appetite has returned he is begging for treats and food--and he already has a big belly from trying to eat all the other cats' food at the shelter! He begs for table food (e.g. ham sandwiches) by sitting next to you and looking up with big round eyes--if there is no response a gentle paw tap on your arm or the sandwich follows.
He has dry food available at all times but scorns that in favor of tastier alternatives. I will have to try to control myself and not give out so many cat treats!
Hope you understand my decision to take only one for now! He is really loved and we enjoy having him with us so much.